Laura Kronen has lived with type 1 diabetes for over 22 years and is the author of "Too Sweet: The Not-So-Serious Side to Diabetes," the founder of transformational life coaching organization, Be You Only Better, and a lifetime entrepreneur. She provides motivational, entrepreneurial, health and wellness, and diabetic coaching to people around the world. Her life coaching techniques have changed people’s lives and enabled them to live up to their truest potential, giving them the necessary tools and the accountability to achieve their dreams.
Living with diabetes is a lot like riding a bicycle. Except the bicycle is on fire, and you are on fire, and everything is on fire and you’re in hell.
All exaggerations aside, that’s really how it feels some days.
Other times, it is a delicate balancing act with no rhyme or reason, but you just keep on pedaling, hoping to stay within a healthy blood sugar range, or at least close to it.
People with diabetes need to test their blood up to 15 times a day and take up to 10 insulin shots a day or wear an insulin pump. We also need to accurately and precisely count the amount of carbohydrates we eat at every meal, bolus the correct amount of insulin, and then deal with the high or low blood sugar that so often results after being off just a few measly grams of carbs. Now, stir in exercise, hormones, stress, too little sleep, or the occasional sickness into the mix, and it’s all a crapshoot.
As a diabetic riding that flaming bicycle, should it be my goal to make sure that no one in the non-diabetic world gets uncomfortable for even a slight moment as I do one of my gazillion shots or finger pricks?
Ultimately, our lives depend on poking our fingers and taking insulin. We have to take care of ourselves when and where we need to. I am sorry if my diabetes inconveniences you, but it is a much bigger inconvenience to me. Consider yourself lucky.
Why does a diabetic taking care of business cause such great controversy? Why do people have such a problem with diabetics keeping themselves alive in the public domain? Why do certain members of the human race want to shun us to unsanitary bathrooms, or if those aren’t completely vacant, to the filthy stalls where people do their dirty business, so that no one has to be subject to or inconvenienced by our itty-bitty needles?
Back in the day, when I used to care what people think, I remember being in a public restroom taking insulin when a mother gave me a look of sheer horror as she rushed her young child out of the bathroom (sans hand washing), because she thought I was taking heroin or crack or whatever it is that drug addicts shoot up. Personally, I think the lack of hand washing is much worse than seeing a needle in public.
Also, consider this: I have to take insulin right before I eat, not after I order my food. So, if I followed the belief that a public display of diabetes was taboo, that means when my food arrives at the table, I need to excuse myself to the bathroom to take a shot and then, if I decide to order dessert (yes, diabetics can eat dessert), I need to excuse myself again to take another shot. I’m annoyed just thinking about it.
If a public display of diabetes is inappropriate, we also need to ask ourselves if blowing a nose, coughing, showing too much affection, speaking too loudly on a cell phone, or watching a parent give in to their child’s bratty behavior in public is inappropriate as well and should be banished to a private area. I have seen all of these things more times than I care to remember, and they all bother me to the point of cringing, but who am I to judge? I just look away.
If you see a needle, and you have a phobia of needles, look away. If you have a fear of blood, and you see someone pull out a glucose monitor, you can bet they are going to poke their finger. Look away. The whole process only takes a few seconds; it’s not a feature film. Look away. I do not toss my used needle on the ground so you can step on it, or taunt you with its 1/8” scary steel tip. I place it neatly back in my bag where I dispose of it properly at home. Just look away.
Building self-confidence is one of the many areas I specialize in with my life coaching practice. I encourage a client when they walk into a room of people to never worry about if they will be accepted or liked. Instead, worry about whether you will like the people that are in the room. Reframe the situation.
It is also the way I approach my diabetes management and mentor my diabetic clients to do the same. Do not worry about what stigmas others have developed. Live your life how you feel comfortable, educate others if you can, and keep on riding that bicycle.